Charmingly unassuming, rather like Paul himself.

READ REVIEW

THE FARMER

A hardworking farmer, toiling solo until his well runs dry, is aided by helpful friends and timely rain.

“Paul mows…rakes…digs…[and] draws water” in successive spreads, one per action. After his well fails, the searing sun dominates a double spread, dwarfing Paul’s farmhouse and blackened crops. “But Paul is not alone”—a silhouetted cow, donkey, mole, and bird (all seen in earlier spreads) parade forth, bearing water and implements—“and his friend the rain is never truly far away.” A page turn reveals Paul’s lush, lovely crops—the result of his close observation, intense labor, and a hefty dose of good luck. Abadio’s naïve compositions convey a winsome bemusement that never mocks Paul, a white man who is matter-of-factly portrayed with a large, beaky red nose, tall black hat, and ballooning red overalls. Paul is absent or visually minuscule in some spreads—a nod to the central role that the land plays in the lives of farmers. Gentle humor is visual, as when a succession of Pauls peer from a series of mole holes. Compositions, all done on yellow paper, are striking: Mirroring the spread with the enormous sun is an equally mammoth moon that silhouettes Paul’s tiny house; in another, Paul stands level with the bottom of the dry well looking up, the bucket resting in futility at the bottom of the aquifer.

Charmingly unassuming, rather like Paul himself. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4158-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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